With the sudden appearance of the Lord Himself, beginning in chapter 38, the book of Job reached its climax. God revealed Himself to Job in a powerful and miraculous way, and this resulted in Job’s confession and contrition. The Lord then rebuked Job’s three friends for their wrong words, and Job prayed for them. “And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.
Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10, NKJV), and Job lived a long and full life afterward.
There is, however, something unsettling, something unsatisfactory about the story and how it ends. God and Satan, arguing in heaven, battle it out here on earth in the life and flesh of poor Job? It just doesn’t seem fair, doesn’t seem right, that Job would have to bear the terrible brunt of this conflict between God and Satan, while the Lord remained in heaven and simply watched it.
There must be more to the story. And there is. It is revealed many centuries later, in Jesus and His death on the cross. In Jesus alone we find amazing and comforting answers to the questions that the book of Job doesn’t fully answer.
* Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 17.
When God appeared to Job in chapter 38, He revealed Himself to Job as the Creator, who “ ‘divided a channel for the overflowing water,’ ” the One who made “ ‘a path for the thunderbolt, to cause it to rain on a land where there is no one’ ” (Job 38:25, 26, NKJV). Our Lord, though, isn’t only the Creator. He has another crucial title and role, as well.
With these famous verses, Job shows that he had some knowledge of the Redeemer, some knowledge that, though people died, there was hope beyond the grave, and this hope was found in the Redeemer, who was to come to the earth one day.
These words of Job point to what is the most crucial and important truth in the Bible: God as our Redeemer. Yes, God is our Creator. But in a fallen world, in a world of sinners doomed to die eternally in their sins, we need more than a Creator. We need a Redeemer, as well. And that’s precisely who our God is: both our Creator and our Redeemer (see Isa. 48:13–17), and it’s from Him in both those roles that we have the great hope of eternal life.
The allusion to Genesis 1:1, God as Creator, is obvious in John 1:1. And if that weren’t enough, these words—“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him. . . . But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:10–12, NKJV)—make the link between Jesus as Creator and Redeemer inseparable. Indeed, it’s only because He is the Creator that He can be our Redeemer, as well.
In the earliest chapters of Job, we were given a glimpse into the reality of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. As we know, it was a battle that started in heaven but eventually came to the earth (see Rev. 12:7–12). In the book of Job we saw that same dynamic: a conflict in heaven that comes to earth. Unfortunately for Job, that particular conflict on earth centered on him.
Job’s point was simple. You are God, the Sovereign of the universe, the Creator. How can you know what it is like to be a human, to suffer the things that we suffer?
Job’s complaint, that God wasn’t a human and therefore couldn’t know human woe, was answered fully and completely by the coming of Jesus into humanity. Though never losing His divinity, Jesus also was fully human, and in that humanity He knew what it was like to suffer and struggle, just as Job and all humans do. In fact, all through the Gospels, we see the reality of Christ’s humanity and the sufferings that He went through in our humanity. Jesus answered Job’s complaint.
“It was not a make-believe humanity that Christ took upon Himself. He took human nature and lived human nature. . . . He was not only made flesh, but He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh.”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1124.
Without question, Jesus is the model man. His life—His character— is the example that all who follow Him should seek by God’s grace to emulate. Jesus is the only perfect example we have in terms of how to live the kind of life to which God calls us.
Still, Jesus didn’t come to this earth merely to give us an example. Our situation as sinners called for more than just character development, as if reforming our characters and molding us into His image is all that His work as Redeemer required. We need more than that; we need a Substitute, Someone to pay the penalty for our sins. He came not just to live a perfect life as an example to us all; He came also to die the death that we deserve so that His perfect life can be credited to us as our own.
Jesus had to die for us because obedience to the law, though central to the Christian life, is not what saves the fallen. “Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law” (Gal. 3:21, NKJV). If any law could save a sinner, it would be God’s, but even that law can’t save us. Only the perfect life of our perfect Example, Jesus, could save us, and so Christ came to offer Himself as “one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12, NKJV).
Isaiah 53:4 said that Jesus bore our griefs and sorrows. That must include Job’s griefs and sorrows, as well. And not just Job’s but the whole world’s. It was for the sin of all humans who ever lived that Jesus died on the cross.
So, only at the cross can the book of Job be put into proper perspective. Here we have the same God who revealed Himself to Job—the God who teaches the eagle to fly, the God who binds the quarks—suffering more than any human being, even Job, ever suffered or could suffer. The griefs and sorrows that we know individually, He assumed corporately; no one, then, can lecture God on suffering, not when He in humanity bore in Himself the full brunt of all the suffering that sin has spread around the globe. We know only our own griefs, only our own sorrows; at the cross, Jesus experienced them all.
The God who asked Job, “ ‘Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?’ ” (Job 38:33, NKJV) becomes more incredible when we realize that though He created the “ ‘ordinances of heaven,’ ” He also took upon Himself earthly flesh and in that flesh died so that He “might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14, NKJV).
Viewed through the Cross, the book of Job makes more sense than it does without it, because the Cross answers many questions that the book leaves unanswered. And the biggest question of all deals with how fair it is for God to be up in heaven while Job on earth is forced to suffer as he does, all in order to help refute Satan’s charges. The Cross shows that no matter how badly Job or any human being suffers in this world, our Lord voluntarily suffered so much worse than any of us could, all in order to give us the hope and promise of salvation. Job saw God as Creator; after the cross, we see Him as Creator and Redeemer, or particularly, the Creator who became our Redeemer (Phil. 2:6–8). And to do that, He had to suffer from sin in ways that no human being, Job included, would or could ever suffer. Thus, like Job, only more so, what can we do before such a sight but exclaim: “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6, NKJV)?
After talking about the death of Jesus on the cross, Ellen G. White wrote about the powerful impact it had in heaven and for the onlooking universe. “Satan’s lying charges against the divine character and government appeared in their true light. He had accused God of seeking merely the exaltation of Himself in requiring submission and obedience from His creatures, and had declared that, while the Creator exacted self-denial from all others, He Himself practiced no self-denial and made no sacrifice. Now it was seen that for the salvation of a fallen and sinful race, the Ruler of the universe had made the greatest sacrifice which love could make; for ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.’ 2 Corinthians 5:19. It was seen, also, that while Lucifer had opened the door for the entrance of sin by his desire for honor and supremacy, Christ had, in order to destroy sin, humbled Himself and become obedient unto death.”—The Great Controversy, p. 502.
The world had fallen into sin, into rebellion; it had left itself open to the schemes of Satan as so clearly seen, for example, in the book of Job. Jesus, though, by His taking hold of humanity in Himself while never losing His divinity, formed an unbreakable bond between heaven and earth and, with His death, guaranteed the final demise of sin and Satan. At the cross, Jesus paid the legal penalty for sin, thus reconciling the fallen world to God. Though we are sinners condemned to death, by faith we can have the promise of eternal life in Jesus.
Further Thought: “ ‘Now is the judgment of this world,’ Christ continued; ‘now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die.’ This is the crisis of the world. If I become the propitiation for the sins of men, the world will be lighted up. Satan’s hold upon the souls of men will be broken. The defaced image of God will be restored in humanity, and a family of believing saints will finally inherit the heavenly home. This is the result of Christ’s death. The Saviour is lost in contemplation of the scene of triumph called up before Him. He sees the cross, the cruel, ignominious cross, with all its attending horrors, blazing with glory.
“But the work of human redemption is not all that is accomplished by the cross. The love of God is manifested to the universe. The prince of this world is cast out. The accusations which Satan has brought against God are refuted. The reproach which he has cast upon heaven is forever removed. Angels as well as men are drawn to the Redeemer.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 625, 626.